Each week for Paperback Throwback, I highlight a book from my ever-growing collection of older paperbacks, ‘90s and prior. Come check out everything from Zebra’s line of horror to Scholastic’s preteen Apple Paperbacks, and everything in-between— you’ll know them by their stylishly cheesy covers, flashy plots, and cheap prices.
Join me on this stroll down Literary Memory Lane. Stops include Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and anywhere else mass market paperbacks may be lurking.
This week’s throwback is for all the mothers out there.
Slasher films dominated horror cinema in the 1980s, with one major player being the hockey-mask-wearing Jason who terrorized campers in the Friday the 13th series. His initial appearance proved so successful that it spawned eight sequels before Jason finally met his demise in 1993. If you haven’t kept up with the entire canon, the last title pretty much sums it up— Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. By the the time the final credits rolled, Jason was officially dead … until 2002 when he returned in Jason X.
Though Jason wasn’t seen on screen for almost a decade, he was alive and well in literature … sort of. Across 1994, Berkley published four young adult novels that served as sequels to the film series, though all the emphasis was on his iconic hockey mask rather than the man himself. In each book, an unsuspecting person comes across the mask, gives in to a strange desire to put it on, and feels Jason’s ‘power’ run through them. Carnage ensues.
Such is the case of the first book, Mother’s Day. Carly’s always been a goody two-shoes, which makes sense considering her mother constantly frets over her. It’s hard to break rules when your mom won’t even let you swim for fear of drowning. However, when bad boy Boone sneaks her off on a camping trip with his group of pals, Carly decides it’s time to let loose. However, as the campers drunkenly share local legends on their first night, Carly finds herself completely unsettled by Camp Crystal Lake. Considering the masked man watching them from a distance, Carly has good reason to worry, and soon she’s downright petrified … will she make it home in time to wish her mom a happy Mother’s Day?
Author Eric Morse keeps up the basic premise of the original: get a group of teens who laugh in the face of rules and set a masked killer loose on them. So in that capacity, this book seems like a natural extension of the films. But while the body count might be comparable, most of the danger and edge of the films get lost on the page.
Part of this is because Carly is the only sympathetic character. Her feelings are complicated as she struggles with wanting to fit in and wanting to make it back home in time for Mother’s Day. Everyone else is merely filler. And it’s not just that they’re acting like basic horror movie tropes— they’re boring. Boone is the bad boy who has a heroic streak. Paul is the good looking guy who’s a monster under all that hunk. Albert’s … fat … and scared. That’s the only thing Morse has to say about Albert, and the constant fat shaming is ridiculously stupid. Not only is it unnecessary, but it destroys the premise of the book. Why did Albert agree to go camping with a guy who constantly pokes fun at him? Why did any of these characters agree to this trip? There’s nothing that connects them in a compelling way, other than Jason has to murder someone, so it might as well be a socially diverse group.
Morse writes a few sections from the killer’s point of view, and these are interesting. It adds a different dynamic while harkening back to the mythos of the films. Unfortunately, most of the action follows a group of teens who aren’t up to much. They swim, flirt, drink, do yoga, and complain about the wilderness. There’s not much of anything in-between hack and slash scenes.
So … happy Mother’s Day.
Title: Friday the 13th: Mother’s Day
Series: Friday the 13th #1
Author: Eric Morse
Publication Day: July 1994
Classification: Horror, Young Adult